The Nedbank Golf Challenge and Sun City were as great as always. Like every year the hardest thing about the week is leaving. However I’m leaving in good spirits as I feel that I sorted a few things out during the week. The work I did with Mike Walker early on in the week was great. I got a few things clear in my head and we figured out what I needed to work on during my winter break. The great thing was that it made a difference to my play during the week as well.
I’d say last week was probably my best week ever in Sun City. I’m sure I have finished higher than 20th in the old format, but in terms of how I played and dealing with the swirling wind and altitude, I’d say that this was my best performance. I have always found it a hard place to get the clubbing right as there are so many variables, but last week we managed to do a good job of it.
I finished in 20th place but it was probably the worst I could have done. The final few holes cost me a lot of shots over the last three days – I dropped seven shots in total over the last 5 holes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This, added to my triple bogey on the 9th, cost me contending the tournament. The triple was a bad one really; I went for the green in two and caught the water. I took a drop up at the water so as to have a chip shot, but I chipped it in the water with my first ball. I really should have made a six at worst.
I am disappointed to have played as I did and only finish 20th but I am also happy with how I played and the work I did during the week. I could see a lot of progress by the end of the tournament and I was getting confident with the driver again. On Saturday I felt really good with it and drove it great and I’m taking a lot of positives away with me from the week. My long game was much improved from the previous week, my wedge play benefited from the practice I did on it and my putting felt really good.
Unfortunately the season is coming to an end for me – I have the Father and Son at the start of December, but given the way I played last week I would love to have a few more tournaments. However I will be getting into my winter practice and getting myself ready for the start of next season.
Well done to Tommy on a great win!
Final round of one under par 71 sees Padraig finish in the top 20 at the Nedbank Challenge. He got off to a great start with three birdies in his first five holes but dropped a shot at the par four, 8th hole. He picked that back up immediately at the par five 9th to be out in three under par. Two bogeys on the way home did the damage but 13 birdies and two eagles for the week indicate that he is playing well. He plays next week in a father and son event with eldest son Paddy!
Disappointing third round for Padraig as he yet again makes plenty of birdies but a few stray shots cost him dearly. Two birdies in his first five holes were cancelled out by dropped shots at the par four, 4th hole and par four, 8th hole. He got right back in the mix with two opening birdies to start the back nine but a double bogey on the par five 15th put paid to his chances of a good score. He finally dropped a shot at the last to sign for a 73. He is now level par for the tournament heading into Sunday’s final round. Eleven under par leads!
A second round of level par 72 sees Padraig remain at one under par for the tournament. But the story of the day was that he made two eagles and two birdies and still only managed a level par effort. For the second week running he took a big number, this time the infamous “snowman” on the par five 9th hole. He is playing some good golf but throwing in the odd bad hole! Still all to play for over the weekend.
Padraig opens his account in Sun City with a one under par round of 71. He got off to a nice start with a birdie on the reachable par five second hole but dropped a shot at the par three, 4th hole. With a sucker pin just in over the water, he missed the green left and failed to get up and down. He bounced back with a shot picked up on the par four 8th hole to be out in one under par. He swapped a birdie and a bogey on the way home to sign for a 71. He will need a low round Friday to get into contention as nine under leads after the opening days play.
Padraig plays this week on the European Tour in Sun City at the iconic Gary Player designed course for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. It is the second last event on the European Tour for the Race to Dubai title. Austria’s Bernd Weisberger currently leads the race but a host of players can catch him with good results in the last two Rolex series events. The prize fund this week is a massive 7.5 million dollars with 2.5 million to the winner. Lee Westwood is your defending champion and it is a course Padraig likes having shot a 61 here way back in 2001. The field features six Rolex Series winners, including Alex Noren and Bernd Wiesberger who have both won two Rolex Series events. The course is a 7,831 yard monster with breath-taking views surrounding it!
Padraig tees off at 9am Thursday with Ernie Els & Matthew Southgate.
This week I am Sun City for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. I have been coming to Sun City for tournaments and holidays since 1997 and I have always had a good time. My results on the course have been mixed over the years, some good and some bad. I’ve never won here unfortunately, but it’s one of those courses that I would really like to have a win on. Like last week in Turkey, I am here on an invite and so can’t progress to Dubai, but that said it doesn’t mean I am trying any less.
I struggled with my game last week so when I got here on Monday I arranged to do some work with Mike Walker. Mike works with Pete Cowan and so knows what Pete and I work on. We spent a couple of hours on the range on Monday afternoon getting to the bottom of my problem. Essentially my shoulders weren’t working properly and were causing me to compensate with my hands and swing path. Sounds a little complicated, but it’s actually simple stuff that I have done with Pete many times. It was great to have Mike here to point it out and help figure out how best to fix it for Thursday.
On Tuesday I did some practice in the morning working on what Mike had said and then played the back nine. As always, the course is in great condition and you couldn’t find a fault out there. After I played I did some more work with Mike and we closed the range! I know exactly what he is saying and what I need to do, the only problem is trying to get it right for the tournament. If I had a couple of weeks to work on it I wouldn’t be worried about it, but I only have a coupe of days to get it working.
On Wednesday I played the pro-am with Rolex, my sponsor. Unfortunately we weren’t in the prizes but we had a great day. The course played quite long as there was a big thunder storm on Tuesday night. I am also not fully confident and so I’m not swinging at full speed but I could see on the course that the practice I have done has helped a lot. I am much more aware of my bad shot now and what I need to do to correct it. Again, after the pro-am I went to the range to hit some more balls, working on it. I can see good improvement, I just have to remind myself to be accepting if I hit a poor one or two during the tournament.
I’ve hit a lot of balls this week as I needed to sort out what I was doing last week. It’s not the best preparation for a tournament, but then it had to be done. I have been conscious of the fact I am here to play a tournament and so have been hitting plenty of wedges on the range. No matter how good or bad I am swinging the club, it doesn’t really affect my wedge play. This comes down to practicing yardages and being in a good place mentally.
No matter how many times you have played this course it always takes a bit of getting used to when you come back. There are a lot of things going on when you play here. It is at altitude so we work in metres for the week as the ball flies further, the wind swirls terribly here and it can get seriously warm. All this added together can make for tough time with clubbing. You have to constantly remind yourself of this when you are playing, otherwise it can drive you mad.
I’m playing with Ernie and Matt Southgate in the first round at 9am (7am Irish time). I’m a little unsure what to expect as I have hit a lot balls. Hopefully all the work pays off!